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How will the NBA resume play? Jared Dudley has some answers

Lakers forward Jared Dudley warms up before a game against the Nuggets on Feb. 12, 2020, in Denver.
(David Zalubowski / Associated Press)

Lakers forward Jared Dudley believes it’s in the best interest of players to resume the NBA season. When he hears the opposing viewpoint from his peers, it concerns him.

“There has been people that have voiced it not only to the media but behind the scenes,” Dudley said. “They haven’t been well educated and gotten the information they needed to be able to make the right, proper statement. That’s for one, on the union, and one, on the league. Because the league has been so hush hush.”

That lack of transparency, Dudley believes, is causing confusion. So on a Wednesday afternoon video call with reporters, Dudley practiced full transparency about what he and other players have been told about the potential for the NBA’s return to play after the league was shut down March 11 because of the coronavirus pandemic.

During a 25-minute session, Dudley shared that when the league resumes players won’t actually be confined to isolation, what he imagines the playoffs will look like and why it’s important to consider that every team has its own version of a Dennis Rodman.

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  • In the first week of June, Dudley is expecting NBA Commissioner Adam Silver to allow teams to expand use of their facility to small groups of players, rather than limit the use to individual workouts. “I don’t think you’re going to go from zero to 100. Especially with the politics have gotten so involved with basketball returning, but you can’t just go from that to 10-on-10 full court. Just your body-wise, so I think they’ll give us seven to 10 days of individual workouts, then that next seven days practice and then you’ll get your two- to three-week training camp before we head to Orlando or Vegas.”
  • The “bubble” won’t really be total isolation. “You will be allowed to leave. [NBPA executive director] Michele Roberts has said it. Even Adam Silver on a conference call. Now just because you leave, if we’re gonna give you that leeway, if you come back with corona you can’t play.” Dudley said there will be constant testing. While he doesn’t anticipate a league rule not allowing players to leave the so-called bubble, he thinks teams might implement that rule themselves. “Bron, AD and all the top guys we have, we’ll be wrapping them in a bubble and not letting them go anywhere,” Dudley said of All-Star forwards LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Dudley also expects players to be allowed to have families join them after a certain period of time. “Some people with newborns, it might be difficult. I know Giannis [Antetokounmpo] voiced a concern about that. but I think that once you put it into perspective I think everyone wants to finish.”
When Magic Johnson saw that minority- and women-owned businesses were being deprived of coronavirus stimulus relief, he took matters into his own hands.

  • Dudley urges players to think about what could happen if the season doesn’t resume and the league is able to call upon the “force majeure” clause in the collective bargaining agreement that could void the agreement and possibly player contracts. “Some fans on Twitter say, ‘Hey, Jared just wants to win a championship,’” Dudley said. “Well, yes, that’s true. But it’s also financial. I’m set. It’s not for me, it’s [other] guys. I know LeBron and Chris Paul, they would lose 10s and 15s millions of dollars. And I know people don’t want to hear that … but someone — maybe Talen [Horton-Tucker, a rookie, or someone who] — is on a two-way [contract]. How do you expect him to be able to pay bills?”
  • Dudley has heard two possible scenarios for rounding out the playoff field. The first involves teams playing 5-7 games so they can reach 70 games this season to help satisfy local television contracts. The second was having play-in games to sort out the eighth seeds in each conference. A third option, of course, is just beginning the playoffs based on the current standings. “There is going to be someone out,” Dudley said. “Technically is it unfair that we went straight to playoffs? Is it unfair to Memphis if we have a play-in game and they’re 3 1/2 games up? And so at the end of the day, it’s so much bigger than those teams.”
  • What will the playoffs look like? “They will all be seven-game series,” Dudley said. “Adam Silver has already said that. That’s the money winner. When it comes to Disney, that’s why it will be in Orlando. Disney owns ESPN. That’s where they make their money — during the playoffs and Finals. It will all be seven games. That one I’m almost 100% sure of.”
  • For the Lakers, Dudley believes a slow windup to the season will be critical because of the veteran nature of their team. “I ain’t going to lie to you,” Dudley said. “[The layoff] hurts older teams. And even LeBron, I remember hearing an interview when people said, ‘Oh, it’s going to help him because of his body, he gets to rest.’ No. At a certain age, it’s kind of like once those wheels get going, you want them to keep going.”
It’s Magic Johnson versus Vin Scully in the finals of the Los Angeles Times’ tournament to determine L.A.'s biggest sports icon.
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  • Dudley said Silver has told players that the league can only restart if they are at a point where another positive COVID-19 test would not require play to be suspended again. That means the league would have to be comfortable finding a way to contain the illness once it’s discovered and stop the spread among its players. He said there are plans to test players before every game and also to quarantine players who test positive.
  • Won’t players police themselves and not put themselves in risky situations to avoid disappointing their teammates? “When you’re dealing with 300 different players — if you’ve seen the Jordan documentary, every team got a Rodman, he just doesn’t have green and blue hair. There’s always someone who’s outside the box, who does that, takes the risk and says, ‘Hey listen, man, I’m healthy and I feel good.’”
  • Dudley has heard that in order to help players stay on the property, Walt Disney World might open restaurants just for players, or have activities available on the grounds that would be secluded. “Maybe someone has a home on Disney,” Dudley said. On that front, the Milwaukee Bucks might have an advantage. Brook Lopez has a home on Disney’s property.

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